One of the unique and exciting parts of learning at Launch is learning expeditions, a key component of Expeditionary Learning schools.  These are longer periods of learning typically lasting between 6 – 12 weeks, and focused on one subject or idea that students explore in several of their classes.  See below for descriptions of some of this year's exciting expeditions!


6th Grade, Quarter 2:  Food, Glorious Food

Food is at the center of almost everything we do; it is essential to our surviving and is also part of the cause of current obesity and health epidemic.  During this expedition students will study the influence food has on culture both negatively and positively.  They will start in crew by learning the basics of nutrition and the components of a healthy breakfast.  In Social Studies they will learn about the influence of food on the growth of ancient civilizations and compare the limitations of availability to current surplus and food deserts here in our city.  Math and English will dig deeper into the current crisis in our own neighborhood and discover the dangers of sugar. Science will take a broader perspective and think about how weather influences our food, how food and other resources affect animal and plant population growth, and predict affects global warming will have on our food supply later.  English will read Seedfolks and connect students with our school garden to explore the many purposes of gardening and growing our own food.  Finally math joins social studies investigating food availability and prices.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the purpose of food?
  • How do food choices affect my life and the environment?
  • What is “enough”?
  • How does my setting affect my access to food?


7th Grade, Quarter 1:  Encounters

Encounters leave lasting impacts on those involved.  The encounter between the Native Americans and the Europeans led to great changes for the American society, leaving profound effects on the lives of the natives and facilitating the Europeans in staking a claim in the New World.  In many ways this encounter led to the development of our current civilization.  However, the Native American – European encounter was and is not the only way that encounters can shape those involved.  Students will be investigating the impacts of encounters in all subject areas.  They will work to understand how power affects an encounter and how these encounters have the potential to leave all parties altered in different ways.

Guiding Questions:

  • To Leave Or Not to Leave?
  • What Happens When People Meet?
  • How Do Encounters Change Lives?
  • How Does Power Shape an Encounter?

Students will investigate the meaning of culture in their social studies classes and will be given one of two distinct made-up cultures.  They will be provided with a task to complete, in which one culture has the clues in their language, while the other culture has the translation.  The students will need to work through their cultural norms to find ways to bridge the gaps in communication so they can successfully complete their task.  After the activity is completed, students will break into small groups and debrief the activity.  The goal is for student discussions to naturally bring about the Guiding Questions about what happens when people meet, and the impact of power in an encounter.

Students will host a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at Launch.  The first part of the event will be a living gallery where students’ work from different content areas is displayed and families walk around to see student products.  The next part will be a dinner where students will share a food that reflects their family’s traditions and/or culture.  There will be speeches from students sharing their learning from the expedition, and communicating about some of the inconsistencies that exist in the traditional Thanksgiving narrative.  Students will work to create placemats that will showcase their learning in ELA, Social Studies, Math and Science.  When students return from Thanksgiving break they will have an opportunity in Science and Social Studies class to create a cookbook that allows students to engage in their own cross cultural encounter.  They will each create a page for the cookbook with the recipe from the meal they brought to the dinner as well as a short piece of writing about where that food comes from, and why it is important to their family.  Through this cookbook students will create a way for others to encounter their traditions and the traditions of other families at Launch.

8th Grade, Quarter 2:  The Progress Dilemma

The Progress Dilemma leads students through an extensive examination of the positive and negative impacts of the rapid social, political, technological, and environmental changes that have occurred in the past 150 years here in NYC.  Launch 8th graders deepen their understanding and explore the progress and dilemma relationship through multiple perspectives.  

 The expedition is centered around the case study of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn where industrialization has had both positive and negative effects on the community for hundreds of years. The canal, being man-made, is a great example of the progress dilemma itself.  Students will      conduct fieldwork at various sites along the Gowanus Canal in order to collect evidence and data in order to bring this research back to the classroom.  Students will acquire this knowledge through text based classroom research and discussions, fieldwork, and expert presentations.

 Students will demonstrate their learning as well as presentation skills at our Exhibition Night where they perform collaborative tableaus (narrated silent demonstrations) that express the progress and dilemmas formed in our past through present day Brooklyn.  Students will present to authentic audiences from the community on Exhibition Night including the experts and fieldwork facilitators they have learned from along the way.  

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